Scott has a problem. Scott loves this girl, Ramona Flowers. Sounds good, right? Not really, because in order for Scott to date Ramona he has to destroy her seven evil ex-boyfriends. Why must he do this? Look, stop asking stupid questions and go help Scott!
And my God will Scott need all the help he can get. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a true love letter to the 8-bit era of our favorite hobby. Its got the graphics of an old school arcade game, its got numerous references to the characters and items of that era, its got four player co-op. Oh yeah, and one other thing. Its got an absolutely crushing difficulty.
Scott Pilgrim plays exactly like some of our favorite beat-em-ups. Double Dragon, Final Fight, Ninja Turtles and, most notably, River City Ransom. You walk from the left side of the screen to the right. You see people walking towards you. You punch them until they go away. Rinse, repeat. Except that Scott’s game has a bunch of stuff to keep this from becoming stale. For starters, the game is absolutely charming. Just look at the screen shot. That’s a game you want to get to know. And there’s so many little nods to gaming in general. Mushroom graffiti on tunnel walls, enemies that act like the Mousers from the old Ninja Turtles games, collecting coins from defeated enemies to use in shops like in River City Ransom. The bosses even start flashing when they’re about to die just like in old arcade games. It really does take one back to a time where the best moments of your life were spent playing arcade games in the local pizzeria, the smell of pizza grease and neon glow of numerous arcade games permeating your senses. And speaking of old school games, there is another thing Scott Pilgrim has lifted from that bygone era. The difficulty. Did I mention this game is hard? Because damn, this game can get hard. You ever sat on a hornet’s nest? I did when I was two. That sensation is somewhat similar to playing Scott Pilgrim. The enemies just swarm you. You will not be able to do anything about it. You will cry. A lot. You will get along fine until you hit a wall around the third evil ex. Then you will think that either the game is just damn broken or you must be doing something wrong.
You are doing something wrong.
Remember how in River City Ransom you could enter shops and buy upgrades and new moves? You didn’t really need a lot of the upgrades but it was a good idea to get them? Yeah, in Scott Pilgrim, you need the upgrades. You have to pump Scott up to the extreme if you want a hope of dealing with these enemies. If you keep having your ass handed to you, you’re obviously not reading enough work out books or buying enough souvenir t-shirts.
This high difficulty also shows that this game was made to be played with four people. After all, wasn’t most of the fun of the old arcade games crowding around an arcade cabinet and complaining that you should have gotten that pizza box as your health was totally lower? Ah, good times. Well this seeks to replicate those times. Now a lot of complaints have been made about there being no online co-op. I can understand that. But you need to understand where Scott Pilgrim is coming from. Back in the day there was no fancy online. We were lucky to have dial up! And we had to walk fifteen miles in the snow both ways to get it! Which is all a roundabout way of saying that this game seems to want to stay old school, even when it might be to its detriment.
I also have to mention the music. Man, the music is just awesome. The band Anamanaguchi, known for making tunes from hacked Nintendos and Game Boys created a great 8-bit soundtrack that, were it done back in the day, might be up there with Mega Man 2 and Metroid. Its that good. I want a CD of it. Right now.
For ten bucks you really can’t go wrong. Its a fantastic throwback to the type of game that got us into games in the first place. Scott Pilgrim is a nostalgic game that we never even played. Get the game, get three friends and get playing.